Skip to Content
Igshaan Adams Desire Lines I Was A Hidden Treasure Then I Wanted To Be Known  2016 Fabric Fabric Paint Metal Beads Rope And Tassels 200 X 500 Cm 1

Igshaan Adams: Desire Lines

Apr 2–Aug 1, 2022



At the heart of Igshaan Adams’s expansive weaving practice lies a question: “How would you treat someone differently if you knew everything about them? Or nothing?”

In his tapestries and textile installations, Adams engages with the gaps—the information that is seemingly absent, overlooked, or rendered invisible in the spaces we inhabit individually and collectively. Through the beads, shells, glass, rope, wire, and found objects he uses to compose his weavings, Adams highlights the material aspects of lived spaces along with the personal stories held within them.

J6390 012 Int

Al-Muhyee (“The Giver of Life”), 2020

Igshaan Adams. Courtesy of blank projects, Cape Town. © Igshaan Adams

Adams’s hometown, Bonteheuwel, South Africa, is a key source of inspiration. This predominantly working-class township in southeast Cape Town was founded in the 1960s as part of the forced segregation during the Apartheid era. Adams approaches Bonteheuwel both as a deeply personal space, imbued with childhood memories and a network of familial relationships, and a politically charged space, shaped by violence and generational trauma. Neither can erase the other; both are always present.

03 I Was A Hidden Treasure Press 2

I was a hidden treasure, then I wanted to be known …, 2016

Igshaan Adams. Minneapolis Institute of Art, Gift of Funds from Mary and Bob Mersky, 2018.57. Image courtesy of blank projects, Cape Town. © Igshaan Adams

Bringing together more than 20 projects dating from 2014 to the present—including a large-scale new commission created for the exhibition—Desire Lines is the first major solo presentation of the artist’s work in the United States. Designed in close collaboration with Adams, the exhibition revolves around the notion of desire lines: informal pathways created by pedestrians choosing a more expedient route to their desired destination, as both a convenience and a way to transgress fixed boundaries. Whether it’s by tracing these lines on Bonteheuwel’s physical and socio-political terrain, or rematerializing the pathways of the linoleum floors he recovers from the homes of family and friends, Adams proposes the desire lines as a metaphor for the paths created by one individual which then assume a collective form. In doing so, he transforms what appears to be a mundane detail into a site of beauty, visibility, and agency.

Igshaan Adams: Desire Lines is curated by Hendrik Folkerts, Dittmer Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, including a new visual essay by Igshaan Adams and commissioned texts by Lynne Cooke, Isaac Facio, Hendrik Folkerts, Josh Ginsburg, Imam Muhsin Hendricks, Eusebius McKaiser, Kathryn Smith, and Arnisa Zeqo, as well as two poems by Ocean Vuong. 


Major support for Igshaan Adams: Desire Lines is provided by the Society for Contemporary Art, the Artworkers Retirement Society, the Council for Canadian American Relations, Nancy and David Frej, The Joyce Foundation, The Joyner/Giuffrida Collection, Barbara Ruben, and Wendy Fisher and A4 Arts Foundation.

Additional support is contributed by Marisa Murillo, Martin Fluhrer and John W. Williams, and the Rennie Foundation.

Members of the Luminary Trust provide annual leadership support for the museum’s operations, including exhibition development, conservation and collection care, and educational programming. The Luminary Trust includes an anonymous donor, Neil Bluhm and the Bluhm Family Charitable Foundation, Karen Gray-Krehbiel and John Krehbiel, Jr., Kenneth C. Griffin, the Harris Family Foundation in memory of Bette and Neison Harris, Josef and Margot Lakonishok, Robert M. and Diane v.S. Levy, Ann and Samuel M. Mencoff, Sylvia Neil and Dan Fischel, Anne and Chris Reyes, Cari and Michael J. Sacks, and the Earl and Brenda Shapiro Foundation.


Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions